Letters to the Editor: The 2017 Morris Township election

From left: John Arvanites (Dem.), Louise Johnson (GOP, incumbent), Nicole Saphier (GOP), Cathy Wilson (Dem.), at Morris Township LWV candidates forum, Oct. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
From left: John Arvanites (Dem.), Louise Johnson (GOP, incumbent), Nicole Saphier (GOP), Cathy Wilson (Dem.), at Morris Township LWV candidates forum, Oct. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin


We’ve received quite a bit of correspondence pertaining to the 2017 Morris Township committee race. Have a look.

Editor’s note: The opinions below are the authors’, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.

No new letters will be published about this race prior to Election Day–which is Tues., Nov. 7, 2017.

Two three-year seats are being contested. Here’s where to vote in Morris Township. And here is our coverage of the recent candidates forum, with video. Township voters also have a contested race for the Morris District school board.


Johnson & Saphier for Committee

Nov. 2, 2017

I am writing in support of Morris Township Committee candidate Dr. Nicole Saphier.  I am very honored to be a part of the Joint Municipal Alliance chaired by Dr. Saphier.  Our work in the Municipal Alliance is extremely important for the future and the well-being our youth.  In just 2 years since my involvement we have delivered anti-alcohol and alcohol education to thousands of our young adults and high school aged kids in the community.

Without the leadership and dedication of Dr. Saphier this committee would not have accomplished the great things we did and would not have reached so many people in such a short time.  Dr. Saphier is a leader who I support in her bid to capture a seat on the committee that governs my town.  The passion with which Dr Saphier chairs our committee is second to none. Professionally, as a healer, her compassion is second to none.  We need her on the committee.

I sat to write this note because of what I am hearing out of the opposing party relating to Dr Saphier.  as I write I wonder why Mr Arvanites left Roseland after such a long run in that community.  If he moved to Morris Township because of what a great town it is then why would he try to change it? Then I wonder is this the same John Arvanites who unsuccessfully ran against Rodney for Congress?  Is this the same John Arvanites who paid $9,653 in fines for filing his mayoral campaign finance disclosure forms late, some by more than two years?  Seriously?  I am sure Cathy Wilson is a nice person but there is nothing coming out of her mouth that makes me feel like she would do anything special on teh committee.  Sorry…

Patrick Tierney
Morris Township


Cathy Wilson excels at community outreach

Nov. 2

Dear Residents of Morris Township,

When our Vice President, Cathy Wilson, recently told me that some campaign literature from her opponents in her campaign for Morris Township Committee had disparaged her volunteer work in regards to the environment and sustainability, I felt the need to speak up. Cathy has spent many years working with our group, Sustainable Morristown, in a leadership position. She brings new members to our group which covers the greater Morristown area including Morris Township. She regularly and helps us to network with other local environmental groups, such as the Green Earth Ministries and “Morris Twp. For 100% Renewable Energy.”

Cathy excels at community outreach and she creates marketing materials and literature that we use to help people understand our mission. She has innovative ideas and is incredibly competent at implementation. My understanding currently is that she is not on the Morris Township environmental committee is because the current administration has not approved her applications to volunteer.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Lauren Cranmer, CSP, CHMM, MBA
President, Sustainable Morristown


Nicole Saphier a strong community leader

Nov. 2

To the Editor:

I find it disheartening that my neighbors, some of whom I know and many I don’t, criticize another member of our community who has had a tremendous impact on many of us.

Politics aside, Nicole Saphier has proven herself to me as not only an incredibly devoted breast cancer physician, but also a strong community leader.  I am constantly in awe of all that she accomplishes, while still remaining humble.  I have had the pleasure of being in her company on numerous instances and I would have never known how dedicated she is to Morris Township if I hadn’t read commentary online.  This incredible woman has dedicated herself to her family, her patients and her neighbors and deserves, at a minimum, respect from all of us.  She does not engage in political mudslinging and continues to rise above the untruths printed and spoken about her.  She is not touting false promises or vowing to carry on the agenda thwarted by state and national legislators because she is not a politician; rather she is passionate.  She is involved in this election because she wants her sons to grow up in a safe and thriving community and will do whatever is needed to make sure our community stays that way.

The political climate is murky right now but I urge everyone to consider the person behind the ballot before casting your vote on Nov. 7th.  It’s not always about being on the right or the left, but it is about making the best choice for Morris Township.

Shannon Riley
Morris Township




Republicans show proven fiscal integrity

Nov. 2

Morris Township Committee candidate John Arvanites stated in the Oct. 23 debate that residents  are being “over-taxed” by 20 % because the Township maintains a Fund Balance (i.e., Emergency Surplus). He also claimed that this is a “deceptive practice.”  Neither of these are credible statements.

First, this is public information, discussed during public budget meetings and budget details are available on the Township website – www.morristwp.com. Second, unforeseen situations can arise at any time, such as hurricanes, winter storms, emergency repairs, or reductions in state aid, and it is prudent fiscal management practice to maintain a Budget Surplus. Third, raiding the Budget Surplus funds to modestly reduce property tax is a BAD fiscal management practice that restricts our ability to respond to in a timely manner.
Mr. Arvanites was an elected official in Roseland (Essex County) for fourteen years and claims to have significantly reduced the municipal budget there during his terms of office, however, he did not give any specifics about how he did this. Roseland’s current tax rate is more than 25 % higher than ours Morris Township’s; Roseland’s Fund Balance is larger than ours on a per capita basis; and, despite being a CPA, Mr. Arvanites was fined and reprimanded by Election Law Enforcement Commission for late filing of his mayoral financial disclosures. Clearly, some candidates will say anything to try to win your vote.
Instead of listening to untrue claims, cast your vote for the candidates with proven fiscal integrity and conservative financial values – Deputy Mayor Louise Johnson and Dr. Nicole Saphier.

Arthur Huhn
Morris Plains


Cathy Wilson will bring more transparency

Nov. 2

To the Editor:

I would like to urge the Morris Township Committee to please explain at their next meeting the $2 million project to renovate Cornine Field. The subject came up at the candidates’ debate on Oct. 23, but our Township Committee has shared very little information with the public about this large, expensive project. In response to questions at Committee meetings, they explained that there was environmental remediation needed at the field and open space money would be used to fund this remediation. Having shared just this limited information with the public, our Committee proceeded to unanimously vote “yes” to go forward with this project at two separate meetings. This is unacceptable. A complete explanation should have been shared with the public when our Committee voted to commit substantial tax dollars to this project. At the debate, Louise Johnson, the only incumbent running this year, was called out, rightly so, for voting on this project with no explanation.  Even Ms. Johnson’s own running mate could not give more details.

The public has an interest in knowing the answers to such questions as:  What is the scope of the project? Besides the environmental remediation, what improvements are they making to the field? What is the timetable? What is the likelihood of additional costs? What caused the contamination in the first place? There should have been more information shared with the public when our Morris Township Committee voted to commit substantial tax dollars to this project.

The renovation of this field may be a worthwhile project, but taxpayer money should not be committed without a thorough presentation of what is proposed. Our Committee is terrible at communicating with residents. We need more transparency.  I believe Cathy Wilson will change that. Please vote for Cathy Wilson on Nov. 7.  

Melanie Hostetter
Morris Township


Comparing volunteer records

Nov. 2

Letter to the Editor

Before voting Nov. 7, it is fair to ask candidates “what have you personally done for Morris Township?” You will find a striking difference between candidates running for Morris Township Committee this year.

Both Deputy Mayor Louise Johnson and Dr. Nicole Saphier have an impressive record of public service. Each dedicates substantial personal time as a Morris Township volunteer. Mrs. Johnson is not only an elected Township Committee member, but is also Co-Chair of the Township Finance Committee, Fire Commissioner, Board of Health Vice President, Parks & Recreation Commissioner, and a Planning Board member. Dr. Saphier is Chair of the Morristown/Morris Township Joint Municipal Alliance, advocating against alcohol/opioid abuse, Vice-Chair of the Economic Development Committee, and valued Board of Health Member.

Sadly, there is NO record of volunteer contributions in Morris Township by either Cathy Wilson or John Arvanites, although a number of our Boards and Commissions are crying out for resident volunteers. True, Wilson attends many open public meetings, However, she most often uses her time to criticize the efforts of others rather “picking up a shovel” herself. To my knowledge, John Arvanites has not attended any Board/Commission meetings in the one year that he has lived here.

Please reflect on the fact that Deputy Mayor Louise Johnson and Dr. Nicole Saphier are making significant productive contributions of their personal time to our community, while Wilson and Arvanites simply are not. Shouldn’t your vote go to those candidates who have already visibly demonstrated a long-standing commitment to Morris Township?

Mary Ellen Murray
Morris Township, NJ

Nicole Saphier gets her husband’s vote

Nov. 2

Why should I vote for Dr. Nicole Saphier?

Simply stated, Nicole is one of the most accomplished and qualified candidates in recent history.

You might say that I am biased; however, I would ask you how could I not be? Knowing how intelligent, determined, devoted, energetic, and simply wonderful she is has certainly biased me. As it should for anyone who gets to know her.

Nicole is that person who has accomplished so much in so relatively little time. She has surmounted the most extreme hurdles at every major point in her life in her continual drive to make herself the best person she can be. Is it possible to be too determined, to be too driven, to make one’s self and the lives of the people around her that much better? I don’t think so. Nicole is that person that has the “it” factor we seem to talk about. In other words, she has the uncanny ability to always get things done.

From an early age, Nicole has always wanted to make the world around her parents and younger siblings a better place. Over the years that desire has grown and expanded, from her own nuclear family and three beautiful sons to ultimately the people of her community. She has consistently demonstrated a tireless commitment to other people, whether it be by spending extra hours for her patients, over night and weekend shifts to ensure her professional service are available, long hauls to help her friends and family, or by serving on various local, regional, and national committees to enact a positive impact on the lives of countless others.

In addition to an accomplished career as a physician, in which she has numerous scientific journal publications and national speaking events as well as accolades and awards from the various professional societies she belongs to, Nicole has a vibrant and productive history in legislative and government positions. Nicole has been an active, leading member of New Jersey’s radiological society’s legislative committee and was appointed by the Governor of the State to multiple healthcare-related task forces. Nicole drafted, championed, and passed into action state legislation which has benefited hundreds of thousands of women at risk for breast cancer. Nicole has also spoken at hearings in Trenton, N.J., and Washington D.C. about many healthcare legislative issues at stake for all of her fellow citizens. Over the past several years, Nicole has been honored to serve her Township by having a seat and prominent voice on the Health Advisory Board, the Joint Municipal Alliance, and the Economic Development Committee. In addition to being a determined and accomplished individual, loving and compassionate mother, devoted and supportive wife, Nicole has consistently demonstrated a capacity to recognize the issues we face as a society and enact change to make our communities a better place to live.

Why will I vote for Dr. Nicole Saphier?

I will vote for Nicole because I care about our families, our homes, and our beautiful community.

I will vote for Nicole because she can, and will, get things done and make our world a better place.

I will vote for Nicole because I know that she, more than anyone else, can enact the change and programs that will make our lives better.

Simply stated, she is amazing.

Paul Saphier
Morris Township


Why I Am No Longer a Republican

Nov. 1

I grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s in a comfortable, safe, northern New Jersey suburban town not too different from the one I live in now. Most of the people there were Republicans, including my parents. They shared the Republican values of the time – honesty, decorum, fairness, and fiscal responsibility.

Like most children, I absorbed the values of my parents. Eventually, I registered to vote as a Republican. I wasn’t a party-line voter, though. I tried to learn about the candidates and to vote for the best person, regardless of party. But my default position was Republican, especially at the local level. After all, wasn’t the town government doing just fine? And town government doesn’t have anything to do with the national government, right?

I can no longer vote Republican in good conscience.

At the national level, the Republican Party is now controlled by billionaires and by a handful of religious extremists. Those of us who aren’t in one of those groups and are still voting Republican are either being fooled or operating out of habit and inertia.

The Republicans have abandoned honesty. They pretend that tax cuts for the 1% are tax cuts for the middle class. They pretend that voter fraud is rampant, despite overwhelming evidence that it’s almost nonexistent. And now, with just a few brave exceptions, national Republicans are silent about Donald Trump’s near-daily lying and bullying.

The Republicans have abandoned fiscal responsibility. They continue to push for tax cuts with negligible or no spending cuts. (The Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to allow themselves over $1 trillion in additional deficits!)

The Republicans have abandoned fairness. Just look at what they’ve tried to do to Medicaid and to medical services for women.

But it’s still OK to vote Republican in local elections, right? No, I’m afraid not.

Gradually over the years, I’ve learned how important local elections are to the larger stage.

The Republican Party gained its recent national dominance by working first at the state and local levels. Republican municipal leaders support Republican county, state, and national leaders with endorsements, introductions, campaign volunteers and financial contributions. When Republicans control local government, they build networks to help their higher-level candidates. Local Republicans supported Chris Christie as he let New Jersey’s credit rating slide toward junk status and did almost nothing to improve our infrastructure. If Bridgegate hadn’t happened, they might have helped him become President! It is simply not true that national politics don’t matter in local elections. The local politicians are the enablers of the national ones.

Until the Republican Party finds leaders who embrace the values I learned about long ago, I will not vote Republican for ANY office.

George Quillan
Morris Township


Cathy Wilson’s Election Would Be Historic Win

Oct. 29

To the Editor:

I urge all Morris Township residents to support Cathy Wilson for Township Committee. She attends so many Township Committee meetings that a local newspaper called her presence there “ubiquitous” in its endorsement of her candidacy. We need to bring balance and more openness to our local government. Having one-party rule in 2017 with a politically diverse electorate is not effective in representing all. Additionally, if Cathy is elected, it will be an historic win: To my knowledge, she would be the first female Democrat ever elected in Morris Township. I will be voting for strong, inspiring and active leadership on Nov. 7: Cathy Wilson.

Jody Marcus
Morris Township


Cathy Wilson has knack for innovative solutions

Oct. 26

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Cathy Wilson for Morris Township Committee on Nov. 7th. Cathy’s devotion to our town is unsurpassed: She has attended all Township Committee meetings in the last four years as well as numerous other board and committee meetings. She brings grant-writing and budget-writing experience to the table, as well as a knack for finding innovative solutions to problems. When our Committee refused to offer video of their meetings, which towns in our area have had for years, Cathy single-handedly found a way to provide this service at NO COST to taxpayers.  She founded a non-profit organization and hired students from the County College of Morris so Morris Township residents can now view the interaction of our elected officials and residents during the meetings. 

Cathy brings an outside perspective to the Committee, something which is sorely needed. I believe that a one-party perspective, which limits problem solving, has created its own issues. For example, the Collinsville playground has fallen into disrepair, potentially putting children at risk. Tennis courts nets are missing, swings are missing, the area is overgrown and the equipment is shoddy. The money to fix these conditions was approved years ago. However, all the Township has accomplished, thus far, was the delivery of a mound of gravel this summer still sitting there, untouched.

The Township has done nothing to help seniors with their #1 problem: Transportation. Cathy wants to offer $5 rides through a nonprofit at NO COST to taxpayers, like Chatham and Madison provide. In regards to the environment, Cathy will pursue energy efficiency measures that can also save tax dollars. The Township could do more in getting grants that could save us tax money. A vote for Cathy is a vote for an experienced grant writer.

We can do so much better than we are doing. Please vote for Cathy Wilson for Morris Township Committee on Nov. 7th.

Cecile Kent
Morris Township


Cathy Wilson takes time to listen

Oct. 23

I am endorsing Cathy Wilson on Nov. 7. Why? Because she does “Walk the Talk.”  She came knocking on my door one afternoon to make me aware that she was running this fall for Morris Township Committee, yet she didn’t just throw an informational card in my hand, say vote for me, and go on to the next door. We had a very nice conversation. She took the time to listen, she took notes and we went on to have many more conversations after that evening.
She is very knowledgeable about Morris Township/Morristown and the pulse of the citizens. After telling her I felt the community wasn’t doing that much to promote green energy and recycling, she introduced me to the group Sustainable Morristown. She also invited me to a Township Committee meeting, which I attended. Wow! She took action and inspired me to take action. I think this type of leadership is needed in our government.
I believe Cathy Wilson will be a pioneer for the Morris Township Committee because she pays attention, takes action and can bring people together who will work together to get projects done. That’s what we need: Someone who listens to the people’s concerns, is proactive, and has a fresh pair of eyes looking out for the citizens of Morris Township. She is approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. I feel she has the skill set and the knowledge to do the right thing for our community as it is ever expanding and changing.
Cindy Marvin
Morris Township  


Cathy Wilson brings leadership and commitment

Oct. 18

Dear editor:

I am writing in support of Cathy Wilson’s candidacy for Morris Township Committee.  As a fellow member and leader of my church’s environmental committee over the past 3 years, Cathy has mediated differences among committee members, organized a program to save money on utility bills, and collaborated with other groups, including Sustainable Morristown, of which she is Vice President. Cathy and I were involved in a scholarship program for Morristown High School students last spring. She founded Friends of Televised Access of Morris Township and is active in New Jersey Planning Officials and the Washington Association of New Jersey, demonstrating her interest in local government and history.  Although I am myself not a resident of Morris Township, I can attest to Cathy’s leadership ability, energy, and commitment to her community. 


Linda DeLap
Morris Plains

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